by Jeff Gilbert

Cartaphylla Seagoing Notes

I was having a good look at the cockpit. The six inches of side deck could have a header tank under it -this could have a large filler and bung below, & be used as a racing ballast tank, one each side, bucket filled from the sea and dumped. If the cockpit is to be truly comfortable & safe it wont be built for a line of people sitting along the rail like ducks in a shooting gallery. The tank equals the weight of one person. The side deck stops at a coaming, up 9 ins and down 3 to 6 for the seats which are 2 feet wide as is the well.

Interestingly it takes 55 degrees of heel to push the coaming under, and the Cockpit well won't flood, just the outer seat corner. This could be eliminated by bringing the coaming inboard a bit, but it narrows the seats. It seems more important to me to enable people to snooze full length in the cockpit. There's not much point in designing a 6ft 6in long cockpit if you then make the seats too narrow to sleep on. And do this to prevent a situation that would probably only occur if you were less than alert, through missing sleep. The amount of water shipped is about 20 gallons which will drain out the well soon as you get your boat back together, its the least of your worries, staying on board is more important.

To heel 55 degrees takes a 40knot squall with full sail up, & you are on max righting moment. Even if blown flat you wont ship much more water, but you wont give a stuff about that as you'll be busy trying to hang on as Cartaphylla almost immediately pops back upright. In winds this strong your pre-storm procedure should have been done. Lets suppose it isnt, you've been caught by a 40 knot squall while sailing along gay as a bullfrog in spring. This is how I think the boat should be handled.

  • check your lifeline is clear and clipped onto, you have a light and knife tied on to you, and if poss. an EPIRB & strobe.
  • Get to the mainmast and let go the halyards,ie scandalise both mains(drop the gaff booms), by which time the last of the water will be gurgling down the drain.
  • let go the steering and let her come up to the wind.
  • if you have any crew set them to tying off the main (sandwiched between its booms) and the fore (between the gaff boom and the cabintop). You should have some shock cords in the cockpit (octopus straps). If you have no crew in the boat or floating locally, loop a shock-cord around each sail and do the lashings later, last.
  • if they are prepped you can drop the jib and raise the storm jib from the cockpit. If not see below.
  • secure all and keep sailing.

The Little Foredeck You Dont Go On!

berth cross-section (click to enlarge)

To keep sailing If your jib isn't ready you go below and pop out of the fore hatch clipping onto the fore lifeline. Unclip the jib and secure the end of its line to the bowsprit.
Bundle the jib below onto the Vberth flat which should have the mattress already rolled up and in a bag for this sort of sailing, The berth flat is painted with grip paint and drains to the bilge.

The storm jib should be hanked onto its own stay at all times.Clip it to its halyard and chuck its deck box lid below.
Clip on its sheet, with the storm jib still in its now lidless draining box. Never take the lid off without clipping it on.
Tie off the jib stay lead and only go below after making all secure, including all the foresail you can reach. You can reach everything you need without going on deck.
If you have your boat really well prepared you'd have a canoe-style canvas cape secured inside the inner hatch coaming, you pop thru this with elastic round your waist. Not too tight, you have to stuff 75 sq ft of jib past it, or pull the jib thru behind you. Such a cape will save a lot of water entering the cabin, less work for your bilge pump. Go below and fix the hatch, go back to the cockpit, pull up the jib, tie it off tight and get a bit of weigh on, then secure sails.

to lie ahull

  • just go forrd, get rid of the jib,
  • tie off a series drogue to the bow sprit and feed it off the easiest bow side as best you can. This will keep your bow into the waves and weather nicely.
  • secure all and go below to commune with your Gods, whether they be in book or bottle.

hatch diagram (click to enlarge)

If you build the hatches to design you are now as safe as any lifeboat. The hatches are seaway jobs, "leakproof" & large at around 4 square feet (0.36 m2 , the foredeck one a little smaller. They wedge from inside (use your imagination) and have padlockable hasps out. I like them to jam on the coaming so you can sail with them like that and throw one if someone falls off, but many people don't like that as they water swelling can make then jam, so I'll go with the majority vote on the safe options. This means a simple gravity rubber seal and double coaming, with drains in the outer coaming.

The cabin access means climbing down a ladder, I'm going to design a single washboard companionway that wedges in very tight. And I suggest carrying a tube of silicone sealant on the boat. If you are in for a nasty storm, mastic and wedge the washboard in. This is your weak point, crappy companionway boards washing out was pinpointed as the biggest single cause of death in the yachts knocked down in the 1978 Fastnet. The Investigating Committee appealed to designers to take note, but designers draw for clients who want easy access.

Cartaphylla has a mast step across the back of the cabin which is also a cockpit seat and internal stow space. Its at cockpit seat level and any companionway will be 6 inches above it, leaving 42 inches of ladder, steps, or oval hole-cum-step/hand holds in the rear cabin bulkhead. Its safe, its good enough for a million dollar 15m racing catamaran X-Factor just launched in Auckland. Tim Clissold allows a sealing hatch and combined handhold/steps as THE ONLY HULL ACCESS apart from the emergency hatch. Six and a half feet down into the hull, thru this hatch about 18 ins square, and that's all she wrote. Despite an almost unlimited budget, Tim has determined this is the only truly safe way. Even though X-Factor is unballasted strip plank, and would float swamped. Take note, if you are in a really bad way, perhaps an injury, you will get into the cabin somehow. But you cant call for help on submerged electrics.

Carts watertight access is easier, but even more necessary. There is no point in full self righting if the boat, heavily ballasted to achieve said self-righting on a shoal keel, comes up full of water. End of story. If you want a wide companionway, may as well make her a sharpie and get rid of the ballast so she floats swamped. Admittedly we have www.turtlepac.com ,but this flotation is for emergencies such as a container holing. We have a dry cosy cabin, lets preserve that because when you really need it, soaked and half frozen, in a storm, you'll see the integrity of access points as the most important aspect of the boat. You may not put a foot wrong, but wind chill can still finish you. Hypothermia. This cabin is a haven, and I'll be finding a way to get a solid fuel heater in the Russian version.

I cant stop anyone changing the hatch design, but I wont help. if you do change it, remember the sea can be like turning a high pressure hose on your hatch. It better be good!